Politics & Government

Kansas trial of abortion provider hears first witness

WICHITA — The prosecution's only witness said Monday she did not have a full-time business relationship with Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

The denial strikes at the main issue that has Tiller on trial in Sedgwick County District Court, charged with 19 misdemeanors.

Prosecutor Barry Disney indicated that Kristen Neuhaus changed her story from what she told another assistant state attorney general more than two years ago.

Neuhaus said that prosecutor Steve Maxwell -- a deputy to then-Attorney General Phill Kline -- so harshly interrogated her during a secret hearing that she's not sure what she said.

That marked the first day's testimony in the case against Tiller in a trial to decide whether he violated a Kansas law regulating late-term abortions.

The trial is being watched by abortion opponents across the country.

"This is the biggest trial in the history of Kansas," Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Washington D.C., told some two dozen people in front of the Courthouse on Monday morning.

Tiller is charged with having an improper business relationship with Neuhaus during 19 late-term abortions in 2003. Tiller is charged with 19 misdemeanors, one for each of those abortions.

"I would be asked to evaluate the patients and see if their pregnancy constituted a substantial and irreversible threat to their health," Neuhaus testified.

That wording --"substantial and irreversible" -- is important. By law, two physicians must make that determination before a woman can undergo an abortion in cases where the fetus could survive outside the womb.

Read the full story at Kansas.com